Anchovies pack big flavor for such small fish. They’re so strong that only a small amount of anchovy is needed to add flavor to sauces, salad dressings, pasta and pizza. That same small amount also delivers health benefits in the form of essential fatty acids, protein and other nutrients.
When anchovies are used in sauces and dressings, they impart a salty rather than fishy flavor. Four anchovy fillets are enough to season about 1 cup of Caesar salad dressing, and five or six fillets suffice for enough clam sauce to serve four. Nutritional values are for 20 grams of fresh anchovies or about five fillets. This serving size has 26 calories and 4 grams of protein, which means that men get 7 percent of the recommended daily value of protein and women get 9 percent.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Eating a total of 8 ounces of oily fish per week, including those that contain omega-3 fatty acids, reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to research published in the April 5, 2013, issue of Nutrients.Oily fish were named to reflect the fact that they carry healthy fat throughout the fillet, which makes them a rich source of omega-3. The Natural Resources Defense Council categorizes anchovies as fish with the least mercury that are safe to consume. Twenty grams of fresh anchovies have .3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. This represents 19 percent of the recommended daily requirement for men and 27 percent for women.
Twenty grams of fresh anchovy fillets have 2 percent of the recommended daily intake of magnesium, 3 percent of calcium and 5 percent of phosphorus. All three minerals are essential for the growth and maintenance of strong bones. Calcium and phosphorus combine to make the primary mineral used to build bones called hydroxyapatite. Magnesium forms the matrix that supports hydroxyapatite.
In addition to forming bones, calcium and magnesium have important roles in the cardiovascular system. Calcium stimulates muscles in the heart and blood vessels to contract, and magnesium makes them relax. They maintain your heart beat and regulate blood pressure. The same serving of anchovies also provides 19 percent of the daily intake of niacin, 4 percent of vitamin B-12 and 2 percent of vitamin B-6. Vitamins B-12 and B-6 remove a substance from the blood that contributes to heart disease. Niacin lowers levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and may reduce the chance of dying from a heart attack, according to Oregon State University.
Anchovies are a rich source of iron, with 20 grams of fresh fish containing 12 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 5 percent for women. Iron is well-known as the transporter of oxygen throughout the body, but it’s also necessary for cells to make energy and to help white blood cells kill bacteria.
Anchovies are frequently purchased in cans or jars, which means they’re high in sodium. Prepared anchovies are first preserved in salt and then packed in oil or more salt. Even when the product states it’s packed in water, it’s usually in salty brine. Twenty grams of fresh anchovy fillets have 21 milligrams of sodium, but the same serving of prepared anchovies can have more than 700 milligrams, depending on how the fish were processed. Daily intake of sodium should be limited to 1,500 milligrams, according to the Institute of Medicine. Eliminate some of the excess salt by rinsing the fillets or soaking them in cold water for 30 minutes.
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